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Background Information

Buildings and relevant architectural designs have always been prominent landmarks for every city. These buildings assist the city in establishing a sense of identity and symbolize the citizens and tourists regarding the city’s historical value and cultural diversity (Sim, 2019). After 1900, several cities like the United States shifted their several high-rise structures to highlight their identity in terms of establishing landscapes. One such building is the Empire State Building in New York City, built from 1929 to 1931 (Fiederer, 2018). Tall structures have apprehended the imagination of individuals throughout history and led the builders to develop tall buildings with steel and other materials.

To support the vast numbers of individuals who live and work within, large structures, predictably, need a huge number of resources. They consume a great deal of electricity, fuel, food, and other resources. The difficulty is that with such a large amount of use, it is silly to waste. And that simply indicates that there are a lot of pollutants, (Regneir et al., 2018), that could be prevented. This waste can occur not just as a result of the property's architecture, and also as a result of its occupants' failure to consider, for example, how to utilize water from the tap properly. Whereas the latter is primarily a behavioural and cognitive problem, the former could be caused by a variety of factors. The Empire State Building consisted of a maze of pipes, instruments, and steel valve wheels, (Alam et al., 2019), which contributed to the building’s chiller plant identity. However, the presence of the historical building looks stunning yet the enormous heath exchange instruments are thoroughly upgraded on the inside. The major reason why the building required an upgrade or alterations on its overall build and structure was that the excessive utilization of energy completely influenced the obstacles felt within the city’s dreams of carbon neutrality. As per the reports of De & Mukhejee et al., (2013), New York City’s buildings account for 70% of its overall emitted carbon. Therefore, to enhance these factors and make those buildings more energy-efficient retrofitting was necessary. Nevertheless, retrofitting such tall and historic buildings was a challenge for the builders and the architects. The primary issues were faced by the engineers and the senior architects since they had the task of convincing the owners that performing the restoration activities will overall contribute to their financial interests. Requisite functional parameters and sustaining with the expenditures associated with maintenance of buildings were quite high and were increasing over time making it tough for the owners and the tenants. Retrofitting such structures with state-of-the-art technological features is required to keep pace within the existing scenarios of advancements and effective parameters.

Solution

The Empire State Building’s original green retrofit, accomplished in 2010, and included the financial resource of over $31 million, was ground-breaking during that period. Rising fuel and energy prices already have included a large level of threats and complexities in terms of the viability of these iconic buildings throughout the world. Initiation of such environmental issues and crisis of energy leads the iconic buildings to get obsolete even before their structural life plan gets over. Similarly, The Empire State Building, which is considered one of the most iconic structures in the world is also facing similar issues. The building necessitates Energy-efficient retrofitting (EER), (Oh et al., 2018), for curtailing the energy cost of the entire building and making it more lucrative both for the owners and the relevant tenants. EER is nothing but the additional inclusion of new energy-efficient technologies or instruments within an existing property for reducing its functional expenditures, reducing energy consumption, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Energy-Efficient Retrofit of the Empire State Building project mainly is probationary on the economic viability of EER for commercial skyscrapers like the building (Oh et al., 2018). The entire EER chiefly boards enhanced energy performance of an existing structure through the incorporation of advanced and latest technical features, that were not accessible while the building was constructed for the first time.

The primary choice of repositioning the world’s famous building is a leading instance of an economically feasible, energy-efficient business retrofit was made because it constituted a potential for fundamentally disrupting the overall industrial sector related to real estate. The best possible solutions that were determined and includes in the entire retrofitting procedure of the building were targeted towards giving the building an efficient interface of effective parameters generally to make the owners and tenants achieve more profits.

The Empire State Building was chosen to demonstrate the economic viability of power conservation refurbishments for a large-scale commercial structure (Lovins, 2018). Even so, if a 90-year-old structure can create a compelling commercial argument out of everything, so can the younger folks. Building upgrades are usually undertaken on an ad hoc basis in response to unexpected system breakdowns or occupant concerns. Property owners that plan for investments and consciously implement power optimization save more energy, which is unsurprising. The development team at the Empire State Building devised a long-term strategy that was integrated with scheduled system rotation to maximize power reductions with minimum and extra investment. The money invested in energy-efficient technologies was repaid in 3.1 years in the form of lower energy bills (Aggarwal, 2021). The results are still used as a benchmark for similar commercial ventures. The viable solutions that were implemented, and discussed are mentioned below:

  • Tenant Daylighting, Lighting, and Plug Loads: The Empire State Building necessitated the retrofit for its installed windows for facilitating or improving daylighting. The inclusion of an indirect layered lighting system, daylight harvesting, dimmable ballast, (Reigneir et al., 2018), and photo-sensors within workstations guaranteed improved control over the lighting systems and assisted them in reducing the plug load when remaining untenanted. All of these measures rescued cooling load since lower heat was generated from the relevant lights and devices, thus it lowered the utility expenses for the tenants of the building since the implemented technology or concept enhanced the superiority of illumination.
  • The Empire State Building Realty Trust was associated with an enhanced group of experts which involved the Clinton Climate Initiative, Johnson Controls, and the Rocky Mountain Institute (De & Mukherjee, 2013).
  • Installation of VAV AHUs - The existing volume air-handling units (AHUs) substituted with the latest effective Variable Air Volume (VAV) AHUs to fulfil the lowered air handling loads whenever the occupancy is low. This particular device delivers the tenant's comfort along with optimum savings in energy consumption (Hamza, 2021).
  • Direct Digital Control (DDC): Combining the overall control systems included within the structural components of the building, (Marriage, 2019), will establish an intelligent network for responding to the alterations linked with each other. This will eventually form an intelligent building administrative framework that will substantially eliminate the scope associated with energy loss.
  • Demand Control Ventilation Systems: Carbon emissions, already have been one of the major issues that have led the buildings to prevail excessive exploitation of energy resources and causing an imbalance in terms of the environmental aspects (Kharvari, Azimi & O’Brien, 2022). The use of power for purifying superfluous amounts of external clean air is reduced by measuring the percentage of carbon dioxide in the house and calibrating the input of external clean air to preserve the appropriate CO2 concentration.
  • Window Retrofit - SHGC 0.61 panes were adopted and found to be effective during retrofitting operations of the building. The double-hung panes were dismantled first, with covered fabric strung among the window panes and inert atmosphere injection was the subsequent step.  This retrofit improved building users' convenience by increasing window insulation, UV ray obstruction, reducing moisture among glass panes, and reducing the pressure on the HVAC system. The laminated film utilized in the East, West, and South frames is SC 75 (SHGC 0.27), whereas the TC 88 film (SHGC 0.36) is utilized in the Northern panes.
  • Radiative barrier: Over 6,000 insulation reflecting obstacles were erected around radiators modules on the structure's periphery. Roughly 50 percent of the energy presently escapes into available space, whereas the other half is used to warm New York City. The majority of the warmth will be reflected in the inhabited area, where it has been meant to go. The thermostats will be moved to the rear edge of the radiators for easy operation. The entire investment in this program was $2.7 million, with an estimated annual energy efficiency of $190,000. Reduced heating expenses and improved passenger satisfaction are two of the most important advantages.
  • Direct digital controls upgrade: The approach entails replacing the Empire State Building's old, fragmented, and predominantly hydraulic control systems with full, uniform computerized controls. The entire cost of this construction was $7.6 million, with a yearly energy efficiency of $741,000 expected. This measure includes control updates for the subsequent building paradigms:
  1. a) Refrigeration Plant Building Management System.
  2. b) Condenser Water System Upgrades.
  3. c) Chiller Water Air Handling.
  4. d) DX Air Handling Units.
  5. e) Chiller
  6. f) Sensors.

The benefits of this solution involve assistance in terms of providing the tenants enhanced flexibility, improved intelligence built into the systems, and lower utility bills.

  • The LCCA Tool: Utilization of this tool was decided since, it abridges the boundary amongst the architects, engineers, energy modelers, and relevant contraptions required for estimating the expenses (Rad et al., 2021). This tool was also likely to be used for initiating the life cycle cost at a faster rate and more complete so the appropriate judgments can be made.

References

Aggarwal, P. (2021). The Empire State Building Retrofit Project. Medium. Retrieved 16 March 2022, from https://solutionsclimatechange.com/the-empire-state-building-retrofit-project-470fe34636b6.

Alam, M., Zou, P. X., Stewart, R. A., Bertone, E., Sahin, O., Buntine, C., & Marshall, C. (2019). Government championed strategies to overcome the barriers to public building energy efficiency retrofit projects. Sustainable Cities and Society, 44, 56-69.

De, B., & Mukherjee, M. (2013). Strategies and Challenges for Energy Efficient Retrofitting: Study of the Empire State Building. Journal of The Institution of Engineers (India): Series A, 94(4), 251-256.

Fiederer, L. (2018). AD Classics: Empire State Building/Shreve, Lamb and Harmon.

Hamza, A. S. (2021). Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Emission and Its Impact on High-Rise Mixed-Use Buildings in Egypt.

Kharvari, F., Azimi, S., & O’Brien, W. (2022, June). A comprehensive simulation-based assessment of office building performance adaptability to teleworking scenarios in different Canadian climate zones. In Building Simulation (Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 995-1014). Tsinghua University Press.

Lovins, A. B. (2018). How big is the energy efficiency resource?. Environmental Research Letters, 13(9), 090401.

Marriage, G. (Ed.). (2019). Tall: The design and construction of high-rise architecture. Routledge.

Oh, T. K., Lee, D., Park, M., Cha, G., & Park, S. (2018). Three-dimensional visualization solution to building-energy diagnosis for energy feedback. Energies, 11(7), 1736.

Rad, M. A. H., Jalaei, F., Golpour, A., Varzande, S. S. H., & Guest, G. (2021). BIM-based approach to conduct Life Cycle Cost Analysis of resilient buildings at the conceptual stage. Automation in Construction, 123, 103480.

Regnier, C., Sun, K., Hong, T., & Piette, M. A. (2018). Quantifying the benefits of a building retrofit using an integrated system approach: A case study. Energy and Buildings, 159, 332-345.

Regnier, C., Sun, K., Hong, T., & Piette, M. A. (2018). Quantifying the benefits of a building retrofit using an integrated system approach: A case study. Energy and Buildings, 159, 332-345.

Sim, D. (2019). Soft city: building density for everyday life. Island Press.

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